Movement afoot to dump Dumpsters - Complaint: They're smelly, noisy and a haven for drunken activity

They're smelly when full, noisy when the lids slam shut, and a way to block views of street drunks hunkered down in alleys for al fresco drinking sessions - or worse.

But the Department of Neighborhoods, the Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce and the Uptown Alliance have teamed up in an effort to get rid of Dumpsters in five of the worst alleys in Upper and Lower Queen Anne, said Jean Sundborg from the Uptown Alliance.

The Dumpster-dumping effort, she said, is modeled after an existing one developed by CleanScapes, a company that offers an alternative approach to trash collection.

The approach involves selling businesses separate bags for garbage and recyclables. The filled bags are then placed in the alleys, and CleanScapes uses its own garbage truck to pick up the bags daily or twice a day if needed, Sundborg said.

The company is around 8 years old, and it has replaced alleyway Dumpsters in Pioneer Square, some sections of downtown, and areas of both Capitol Hill and the University District, said CleanScapes manager, Gaby Wentworth.

Garbage bags cost $4.05 apiece, the recycling bags cost $3 each, and the prices include pickup service, she said. "We pretty much tell people it's going to cost the same (as Dumpsters)."

But there are advantages to Cleanscapes' system over Dumpsters. It cuts down on odor problems and rat infestations, for example, and it enhances public safety, according to Wentworth.

"Down in Pioneer Square, it's cut down on a lot of crime in alleys," she said of everything from drug use to public drunkenness. "Everybody really loves it." Almost all the alleys in Pioneer Square have been cleared of Dumpsters, Wentworth said. "But we're expanding all over the city."

She concedes that the cost of using the CleanScapes' service is an obvious concern for business owners. "But if that was an issue, we wouldn't have expanded as much as we have done in town."

Initial reaction to the proposal for Queen Anne has been positive so far, according to Sundborg. "There's been no opposition." Still, nobody has signed up yet, either.

Margaret Irving from the chamber of commerce hopes to see that change soon. "Members of the Department of Neighborhoods, the Uptown Alliance and the Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce will be contacting individual business owners to encourage them to participate in this program," she said in an e-mail statement.[[In-content Ad]]